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Tech Terms: Online Backups

In storage technology, online backup means to back up data from your hard drive to a remote server or computer using a network connection. Online backup technology leverages the Internet and cloud computing to create an attractive off-site storage solution with little hardware requirements for any business of any size.

This type of off-site storage is typically part of a business disaster recovery plan, as the data remains safe should your office be at risk from disasters such as fires, flood or employee theft.

How Online Backup Works
Using a high-speed Internet connection, specific files or the entire contents of a hard drive are backed up to the online storage provider’s system using a Web browser interface. In some cases the service provider may require software to be installed on your computer, but in either scenario, the files are automatically saved to the online backup on a regular basis (you have the option to schedule the backups at a specific time) or files are automatically backed up when changes are made.

Online backup services typically provide a Web-based admin console to access the data and to monitor the health of your backups. The backed up files are encrypted and stored in the provider’s data centers. A business can download and use the data backup or browse the archived file system hierarchy directly from any computer or device.
Most online backup services are subscription-based, and pricing depends on the amount of space required to store your backup. Service providers employ a number of techniques to reduce the required storage capacity for your backups, including deduplication, where identical files are copied only once, and incremental backups, in which only changes to a file are backed up rather than storing multiple complete copies.

Online Backup for Servers and Apps
In recent years, online backup technology has moved beyond simply replicating business files to backing up your entire infrastructure, including network-attached storage (NAS) devices, multiple workstations and business servers. This allows you to have access to a remote online backup of your entire business from any computer that’s connected to the Internet.

Online server backup enables critical business services to be secured off-site and can eliminate some on-site backup equipment such as tape drives and media. Typically, service providers will offer business or enterprise-class plans that allow your IT department to manage multiple machines and perform centralized online server backup.

Pricing for this type of online backup service may be based on per-user license fees or be a flat rate, and is usually not a fluctuating monthly per-usage fee. Also, capacity is for one or more terabytes of storage, compared to gigabyte plans offered for online backups suited to archiving hard drives or specific files.

Choosing Appropriate Service Levels
When choosing an online backup service, a business has to consider its recovery needs and choose an appropriate service level. Many providers offer data replication services that will safeguard your business data in an off-site location, but additional services many be required to mirror your entire infrastructure, including the systems that data resides in. This includes operating systems, applications and user settings – all of which are required if your business needs to rebuild servers and databases.

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Tech Terms: SDS

Storage infrastructure that is managed and automated by intelligent software as opposed to by the storage hardware itself. In this way, the pooled storage infrastructure resources in a software-defined storage (SDS) environment can be automatically and efficiently allocated to match the application needs of an enterprise.

Separating the Storage Hardware from the Software
By separating the storage hardware from the software that manages the storage infrastructure, software-defined storage enables enterprises to purchase heterogeneous storage hardware without having to worry as much about issues such as interoperability, under- or over-utilization of specific storage resources, and manual oversight of storage resources.
The software that enables a software-defined storage environment can provide functionality such as deduplication, replication, thin provisioning, snapshots and other backup and restore capabilities across a wide range of server hardware components. The key benefits of software-defined storage over traditional storage are increased flexibility, automated management and cost efficiency.

Software-Defined Storage is Not Storage Virtualization
Software-defined storage is sometimes confused with the term storage virtualization, but as an article from CRN explains, while the latter term involves separating capacity from specific storage hardware resources (and thereby pooling storage devices), SDS involves separating the storage capabilities and services from the storage hardware.

Prominent examples of software-defined-storage include OpenStack, EMC ViPR, Nexenta and HP StoreVirtual.

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Tech Terms: SDS

Storage infrastructure that is managed and automated by intelligent software as opposed to by the storage hardware itself. In this way, the pooled storage infrastructure resources in a software-defined storage (SDS) environment can be automatically and efficiently allocated to match the application needs of an enterprise.

Separating the Storage Hardware from the Software
By separating the storage hardware from the software that manages the storage infrastructure, software-defined storage enables enterprises to purchase heterogeneous storage hardware without having to worry as much about issues such as interoperability, under- or over-utilization of specific storage resources, and manual oversight of storage resources.
The software that enables a software-defined storage environment can provide functionality such as deduplication, replication, thin provisioning, snapshots and other backup and restore capabilities across a wide range of server hardware components. The key benefits of software-defined storage over traditional storage are increased flexibility, automated management and cost efficiency.

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Tech Terms: IP Address

IP address is short for Internet Protocol (IP) address. An IP address is an identifier for a computer or device on a TCP/IP network. Networks using the TCP/IP protocol route messages based on the IP address of the destination. Contrast with IP, which specifies the format of packets, also called datagrams, and the addressing scheme.

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Tech Terms: Data Center Consolidation

Data center consolidation (also called “IT consolidation”) is an organization’s strategy to reduce IT assets by using more efficient technologies.

Some of the consolidation technologies used in data centers today include server virtualization, storage virtualization, replacing mainframes with smaller blade server systems, cloud computing, better capacity planning and using tools for process automation.

Data center consolidation is a common consideration for organizations that plan to reduce the size of a single facility or merge one or more facilities in order to reduce overall operating costs and reduce IT footprint.

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Tech Terms: CDN

CDN is short for content delivery network.
A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers (network) that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user, the origin of the webpage and a content delivery server.

This service is effective in speeding the delivery of content of websites with high traffic and websites that have global reach. The closer the CDN server is to the user geographically, the faster the content will be delivered to the user. CDNs also provide protection from large surges in traffic.

How CDNs Work
Servers nearest to the website visitor respond to the request. The content delivery network copies the pages of a website to a network of servers that are dispersed at geographically different locations, caching the contents of the page. When a user requests a webpage that is part of a content delivery network, the CDN will redirect the request from the originating site’s server to a server in the CDN that is closest to the user and deliver the cached content. CDNs will also communicate with the originating server to deliver any content that has not been previously cached.

The process of bouncing through CDNs is nearly transparent to the user. The only way a user would know if a CDN has been accessed is if the delivered URL is different than the URL that has been requested.

Many Businesses Use CDNs
When delivering large scale websites to a global audience, CDNs can reduce latency, accelerate site load times, reduce bandwidth consumption secure applications and even block data scrappers and other forms of spammers hitting your server.

Content delivery networks are used for B2B interactions and in serving content to consumers. Today, as more aspects of daily life move online, organizations use content delivery network to accelerate static content, dynamic content, mobile content, e-commerce transactions, video, voice, games and so on.

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